I hear dead horses


Dead Horses by Golden Sky or vice versa: This song plays ten spins per day at a cafe in Palo Alto but so low that I heard it 100 times before I caught “golden sky” and could find it on the internet

Your song plays every day, likely several times each day, likely so alongside others of your songs, in the cafe I frequent, in Palo Alto, California, near San Francisco (and San Jose). A hundred times I’ve noticed the plaintive voice: we must not lose sight. We must not…lose sight, with a slightly different phrasing or melisma. On intonation. More than a handful of times, I have stopped what I was doing or thinking and tried to catch more of the song, the exact lyrics, but the mix or the ambient noise of the cafe — its busy here — thwarts me. I don’t have Shazam or Soundhound or any of the modern day song-catcher doohickeys, and I don’t really need them neither. 

But today I did search-engine the phrase “we must not lose sight” to find, after two or so false suggestions — “golden sky” and “dead horses” and, soon enough — with, yes, my handheld doohickey but a regular search engine not an app — a video of the trio and the female voice and a face and name that matches what I hear in the cafe.

And ironically, just as I get my aha! or eureka!  the player jumps to The Beatles “Ticket to Ride” and Johanna, in a good mood, starts shimmying, as she places her order. She’s a yoga teacher with full license to shimmy and shake – and as I near her I step to her step — in my more obviously middle-aged and “showing” way — my hips swivel, more or less. And Beverley, half our age, joins in and approximates “The Swim” or something more 1960s — way before her time – -of course, it is the Beatles, to her Beach Boys or Gidget — but filtered thru her Central American mannerisms. 

And Pollstar tells me that Dead Horses is booked by Kate at Crossover Touring. They have five or six shows on their schedule, none in this area. They are from Oshkosh, by golly, and are working, but not really in demand. Their draw is an analog to her voice in the mix on that song, here at Coupa. 

I still don’t know the song. Maybe its about a yard sale at a church yet I think it’s about high school football. The tone of the voice reminds me of Deb Talan and her herons; and Iris Dement, our town — which I thought was on “Twin Peaks”. Or Jenny Lewis who went to a cobbler who can fix the hole in our hearts. 

Good on, Ms. Vos and company.

If you make it as far as Frisco, we have a $500 guarantee for you, plus parking permits, a sound rig and a small audience at Lytton Plaza, by Earthwise. Or maybe we should play Coupa Cafe itself and see if anyone, beyond me, makes the connection. (Or: maybe we can get Jack Johnson, to play what I used to mock as the butter butt song* — Tommy Jordan is from here and played steel drum on some of that session).

The other Crossover bands on my hit list — or I’ve worked with – -and I book shows into three or four parks and facilities in Palo Alto for audiences between 100 capacity and 500: The Mother Hips, Tim and Greg, AJ Lee and Blue Summit, AJ and Sully, Anais Mitchell —we’ve had Todd her arranger here twice in the last year, mostly jazz; Antibalas — played The Palace — Cedric Burnside, Charlie Parr — I think I met him at Stanford once, with Low – -and the man from Low said that Charlie went to Stanford but he chuckled and told me personally that he had not; Rebirth, Tinsley Ellis, Tommy Castro, Victor Wooten. I saw Billy Strings at Stanford last year. Pollstar says he’s getting $100,000 per show. He was Molly Tuttle’s housemate. To me, he was. I’d be curious what he sounds like in a band with Les Claypool. Maybe I should book bands in alphabetical order B, I, L, L, Y to get his attention. Like Yonder Mountain. Indigenous, Lucy Lou. Spells Ymill.

Fair play to Dead Horses. Let me know when you cross the divide.



In spring summer 2023, I am trying to use posters to market my concert series. For example, I have an 8.5 x 11 color Xerox by Robert Syrett for my Sonny Smith aka Sonny and the Rhinestone Sunsets event Friday at The Mitch. And I have an 11 x 17 poster designed by Copy Factory on El Camino that features photos of six upcoming performers: Sonny Smith, Lydia Lunch, Freddy Jones Band — though no one in the photo is actually a “Fred” or a “jones”; Will Bernard et al; Chuck Prophet et al. Chuck appears tomorrow to interview Lucinda Williams about her new memoir, at a theatre on Hayes 275 Hayes maybe, for City Lights, excuse the digression. I am drawing a blank — 11 x 17, white on white — what the sixth one is. I noted there were 17 white people in the photos and only two women. Anyhow, because I hate social media I am hoping to make up for it by increasing my use of posters, handbills, flyers and broadsides. 


*its actually Jack Johnson “Bubble Toes” and “La-da-da-da-da-da-da La-da-da-da-da-da” not “butter butt butt”. Tommy Jordan of Geggy Tah plays steel drums on “Flake”. 

^ an hour or so later, I polished this up a bit — Sarah Vos not “Ms. Vos” and spent $10 on band camp to support a newer release. And I should up my offer to $1,200 for a trio which is scale here, or has been the regular offer for jazz trios. Support bands I tamp it down a bit. But if I am offering to build a show around Dead Horses on the basis of one song or one stanza that I heard nearby in a cafe, at Lytton Plaza and will throw in sound and permits and staffing, might as well go all in for the full $1,200. I say scale is $400 plus some acts get “headliner money” as negotiated by their agent. Yet weirdly or hedgingly or hesitantly I am sending a link to this screed to the band or their website and not a direct query to said agent. (or half-said agent: Kate no last name of Crossover Touring). The hard part is getting from Wisconsin to the west coast. Its possible that they’d come during the winter and we’d do a show at The Mitch — 200 capacity – but we’d likely have to build it up as a co-bill, And lastly or as a caveat — I find more shows scrutinizing the routing of bands on tours than I do by listening to college radio or this playlist thing. A lot can happen to a band between recording of “Golden Sky” and now. 

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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